Mother nature may have inconvenienced thousands of people in the CSRA this past week as the potent ice storm left its indelible imprint.
However, that didn’t deter the intrepid spirit of Paradise Farm’s Lellie Ward and her volunteers as this weekend’s horse trials will still go on.
Although Friday was a casualty of the weather, the horse trials will start this morning at 8 a.m. Safety and the well-being of the horse and rider are paramount in the organizer’s eyes.
“The decision to cancel Friday, I think ended up to be the right move for the ground and the safety of the people and the horses,” said Ward. “I never doubted that the ground was going to be good, but the condition of the roads and everyone arriving at the horse trials was a concern. There are complications for the riders in trying to get their schedule and their times. Aiken is blessed with great ground and people. The footing is perfect.”
Ward has tried to make her horse trials seamless, and the logistical planning for the event takes place far in advance. The horseman makes sure that everything is in place a week before the competition, should something happen, like this week’s storm.
“The week before the event is what I refer to as ‘Fudge Time,’” said Ward. “It came into play before. There was the year that I broke my neck two weeks before the event, so we’ve had practice with this.”
This year’s event is being sponsored by Carolina Outdoors, said Ward.
“I have great sponsor support for the event this year,” said Ward. “Carolina Outdoors will be my major sponsor for the next two years. We’re very excited about that. We have a ton of sponsors. It’s a really exciting program, great riders from all over the place.”
The storm didn’t seem to affect Ward, as the horseman is used to living in her horse trailer, one with its own generator, but don’t come between Paradise Farm’s owner and a Cup of Joe in the morning.
“Nothing gets done without the coffee,” said Ward. “I’ve been able to watch dvds at night, burn one lamp so that my dogs and new little lamb can sit in bed and stay warm together. So, it hasn’t been too bad. We’ve been working till dark, so that keeps you out of the cold house, and then you can just go to bed.”
A number of people and volunteers have provided help on various fronts, said Ward.
“Bambi Glaccum showed up, and she’s a big organizer in Pennsylvania,” said Ward. “She has her self-contained motor home, and it’s turning into operation central as the event office.”